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Sunday, January 28, 2018

Best Disney World Tips

I have made a list of some of the best tips for when you go to Disney

Resort Tips

1. The Disney website will automatically charge you regular price unless you go through their special offers page. You can book rack rate now and when specials come out, you can call and ask them to apply the special to your vacation. They will not do it automatically!

2. Travel agents are FREE to use, so take advantage of them and use them.

3. When figuring out where you want to stay, make sure you consider how long you will actually be in the room. If you will spend the majority of your day in the parks, opt for the least expensive resort that is on your list. If you aren't worried about using the perks, you can stay off site as well.

4. The biggest difference between the pools at the Value and Moderate resorts is the water slide. Value resorts don’t have one! So if you love to swim, you might want to use the pools as your deciding factor on which resort you choose.

5. If you stay on site, you can take the Magical Express from the Orlando Airport to Disney World for FREE! The bus will even drop you off in front of your resort. Just remember to tip your driver $1 per each bag that he or she handles.

6. Staying on property gives you access to the parks that have Extra Magic Hours. This is a special time when a specific park is open either 1 hour early or 2 hours late. Also keep in mind that many people who stay on property take advantage of Extra Magic Hours and there are over 20 resorts on property so the parks may still be busy at those extra hours.

7. Buses on property start running about 2 hours before the park opens. If you want to make it to the park in time to be at the front of the line, you need to get on a bus at least one hour before the park opens. That will give you time to make it through security and still get up near the front of the park’s entrance.

8. The resorts will accept packages on your behalf starting 2 weeks before you arrive. You can use this amenity to ship items to the resort including food, a stroller, a case of water, etc. Just Google for your resorts address. This will save you having to bring things on the plane. Also great if you need special equipment or anything.

9. Mousekeeping is Disney’s version of Housekeeping. The rule of thumb is to tip $1 per person in your room plus an extra $1. So a family of four would tip $5 per day. Sometimes Mousekeeping leaves you magical touches such as towel animals, turn down service, extra towels or extra shampoos. Don't be one of those that comes to expec it though as it takes the magic away.

10. If you get sick at Disney, let a Cast Member know. They can advice you on how to get over the counter medications, transportation to the nearest doctor’s office and more. Disney is very good about taking care of their guests that are under the weather, you just have to remember to ask them!

11. You can visit any Disney resort on property. You can take a bus or a monorail or a boat and browse the resort (you can also drive, just let the guard know you want to browse the resort. You are usually allowed 2 hours.). You can dine in the resort’s restaurants, shop in their stores, walk on their beaches. You just can’t swim in their pool.

12.  Animal Kingdom Lodge has over 100 grazing animals on property. You can view them for free. While you are there, you can stop by the gift shop and there is a place set up for kids to play musical instruments from Africa!

General Park Tips

13. When you enter a park, you must first go through security. To make this process move quickly, go ahead and unzip all of your bag’s compartments. Also the security guard will first check the bag to the person on his left and then he will check the person on his right. Try to go thru the shortest line! Don’t just follow the crowds. If you don't have any bags there is normally a separate line for you to go through to make things quicker.

14. It’s important to know where the crowds are going to go as soon as the park opens.
At Magic Kingdom, they will head towards Splash Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain, Fantasyland (mainly Dumbo and Peter Pan) and Space Mountain.
At Epcot, they will head towards Soarin’ and Test Track.
At Animal Kingdom, they head straight back to Kilamanjaro Safaris.
At Hollywood Studios, Toy Story Mania is the main attraction with some people heading towards Tower of Terror and Rocking Roller Coaster. Try to stay away from these areas to avoid lines. Get fast passes for these rides. If you couldn't then head to the most popular rides first as the lines are shortest early in the day.

15. If you are going to Disney with little ones, you need to know about an unadvertised Disney amenity called Rider Swap. Rider Swap enables a parent to ride with the older children while the other parent waits with the younger child. After the older children ride, the parents swap places and they ride again. To use this feature, just approach the Cast Member at the entrance of the ride and let them know that you want to do Rider Swap.

16. Love to meet characters? Every single character meet and greet for the park is listed on the Times Guide that is available when you enter the park. You can also find the Times Guide by the register at many souvenir shops or you can even ask a Cast Member for one. You will also find the show times and parade times listed in the Times Guide. If you want to know the location they are meeting, just ask a Cast Member. The ones in blue shirts are character handlers. Remember only face characters speak.

17. Disney has a selection of special occasion buttons that you can wear. They have everything from Birthday to Family Reunion. You can pick up your button at the concierge desk or Town Hall in the parks.

18. Each park contains a First Aid center. Here you can get single dosages of select over the counter medicines. They can also help with blisters, heat exhaustion and loose teeth! If you need their services, use them. It’s FREE!

19. Have a little one? Each park also contains a Baby Care Center. This center includes a nursing room, changing stations, high chairs, toys and more.

20. Renting a stroller from Disney is very expensive. You can bring your own or you can rent one from an off site company. You could also order an inexpensive stroller on Amazon and have it shipped to your resort. When you leave, offer it to a family checking in with a little one. It is also cheaper to rent wheelchairs and ECV vehicles from offsite companies. They will even deliver it to your resort and have it waiting on you at luggage services. You can rent other items as well.

21. Want to experience shorter lines, cooler temperatures and smaller crowds? Just make it to the park about 45 minutes before it opens. This will ensure that you enter the park in front of the crowds. We can typically squeeze in about 10-12 rides in the first hour the park is open. It will take you 3-4 hours to ride that same number of rides later in the day! Some of the parks, like Magic Kingdom, also have awesome rope drop ceremonies.

22. If anyone in your party has special needs, Disney offers a Guest Assistance Card. A Guest Assistance Card will enable those will special needs to fully enjoy their vacation by offering alternative entrances and waiting areas for attractions. Visit a concierge desk or Town Hall for more information.

23. You can get in line for an attraction up until the park closes. So if the park is closing at 9 pm, as long as you get in the queue at 8:59 pm, you will get to ride! Take advantage of this!

24. Even though the park has a listed closing time, that doesn’t mean that everything shuts down at that exact moment. Stores are usually open 1-2 hours after the park closes and by browsing the stores, you’ll avoid the mad rush to the buses and other transportation.

Dining Tips

25. Staying hydrated in the park is essential to having a great trip. You are welcome to bring in your own beverages or food in a soft sided cooler. You can also get water for FREE at any snack or counter service restaurant that serves fountain drinks. Just ask for an ice water! We always bring flavor packets (like Crystal Light or Hawaiian Ice) to add to our water.

26.  Dining with the characters is a great way to collect autographs while feeding your family. Each park has at least one character meal. At Magic Kingdom, it’s Crystal Palace (with the gang from Pooh) and Cinderella’s Royal Table (with Cinderella, Snow White, Jasmine, Belle and Sleeping Beauty). At Animal Kingdom, it’s Donald’s Safari Breakfast at Tusker House. At Hollywood Studios, it’s the Disney Junior characters at Hollywood and Vine. At Epcot, it’s the Princesses at Akershus in Norway or Mickey and the gang at Garden Grill near Soarin.

27. The Dining Plan is a great way to save on the cost of food if you normally eat all the food that you will receive on the plan. I suggest that you check out the menus on AllEars.net and plan out a mock day. If you would save money using the dining plan, then it is for you! For your mock day, you will need to choose one counter service restaurant and one table service restaurant. If you have kids, you might choose to have lunch at Cosmic Rays in the Magic Kingdom and dinner at Chef Mickey’s just outside the park.

28. Animal Kingdom only has paper straws which can be difficult for children to use. I suggest you bring some sort of a sippy cup or thermos for the kids to use. (Their cups also do not have lids.)

29. Eating breakfast in the room is a great way to lower your costs. You can bring poptarts, dry cereal, breakfast bars, donuts, etc. Every resort room now has a fridge (for FREE!) so you can keep drinks cold.

30. If you are planning on seeing a parade or watching a fireworks show, consider timing your meal around your wait time. Pick up your food to go from a nearby counter service restaurant and sit and enjoy it in your parade/fireworks viewing spot. This will help pass time and kill 2 birds with one stone.

31. Before you head to the parks, buy your souvenirs ahead of time! I always pick up little things for the kids at The Dollar Tree or the Dollar Spot at Target or Michaels. Also catch deals at DisneyStore.com for cheap items.

32. Most Cast Members wear a lanyard that contains Disney themed pins. You can trade up to 2 pins with each Cast Member. You buy a lot of Disney pins on Ebay. Just make sure the seller has positive feedback and the pins have a Disney seal on the back.

33. Another great and inexpensive souvenir is Pressed Pennies. There are over 175 Pressed Pennies machines on Disney property. Each Pressed Penny costs $0.51. We take coins in a Mini M&Ms tube and arrange it 2 quarters and 1 penny so it is easy to access in the parks. You can also buy Pressed Penny books at the souvenir shops to keep them organized.

34. You can make your own autograph books at home and save money! Characters will sign anything really… shirts, hats, pillow cases, canvas, etc. They just won’t sign anything that you are currently wearing.

35. Downtown Disney contains many different stores that sell most of the souvenirs you’ll find in the parks.   There is no admission to visit Downtown Disney. There are full size statues of Disney characters that you can pose next too for memorable pictures. There is an amazing Lego store there with plenty of Lego structures that you can check out. They also have a big play area where kids can build Legos for free. Also be sure to visit the Ghiradelli Chocolate store. They are always giving out free samples! It is also a great place to trade pins. There are so many things to do here!

Magic Kingdom Tips

36. Want to enter the Magic Kingdom before other guests? Just book a dining reservation in the 8 o’clock hour with either Crystal Palace or Cinderella’s Royal Table. You should be able to get a picture of Cinderella’s Castle without any other guests in the photo! Sometimes the Photopass photographers are out to capture the moment for you.

37. Exiting the park after the fireworks is a mission in and of itself. If you are planning on leaving as soon as the Fireworks are over, try to find a seat towards the entrance to the park instead of near the castle. This will help you to make a speedy exit as soon as the show is over.

38. The Magic Kingdom is not the only place you can see the Magic Kingdom fireworks. You can watch the fireworks from the beach at the Polynesian Resort. You do not need to be a guest of that resort to enjoy the show. Just let the guard know you want to tour the resort when you arrive (if you are driving) or you could just take the monorail or other Disney transportation to the resort and head back to the beach.

39. Fantasyland is the most appealing land for little ones. Make sure you go to this land first thing in the morning. Crowds starting to increase around lunch time and will stay crowded for the rest of the day.

40. There is a sled located outside Ye Olde Christmas Shoppe in Liberty Square. This would be a great place to take your Christmas card photo.

41. There is a working barber shop located on Main Street. At Harmony Barber shop, you can get your baby’s first haircut. Your package will even come with a pair of commemorative ears. You can also get a gel style for just $5 complete with mickey shaped confetti.

Epcot Tips

42. Epcot has 2 sections: Future World and World Showcase. Future World opens at 9 am and World Showcase opens at 11 am. Most of Future World closes at 7 pm, but a few rides remain open including the Character Spot.

43. One fun way to enjoy the World Showcase is to purchase a specific item from each country. Here are a few ideas: snacks, candy, magnet, pen, hat, doll, musical instrument. You could also get an autograph mat (from Michael’s) and have a Cast Member in each country write a phrase in their own language. A few choices for phrases could be love, vacation, family or your name.

44. Instead of eating in a restaurant at Epcot, consider buying a snack for everyone to share in each country. It can fill you up and get a taste of different countries.

45. Stop by Club Cool in the Innoventions building and test Coke products from around the world for FREE! There is one very bitter drink called Beverly. Trick your family into trying it, but avoid drinking it yourself. It is so nasty!

46. There is a play place located in the Mission: Space building that is great for kids under 5. To get to it, you will need to enter the exit of Mission Space (it’s like a gift shop area, it’s not an exit like other rides). This is a great place for little ones to play while their sibling rides Mission Space or Test Track.

Animal Kingdom Tips

47. Did you know that there is a secret entrance to the Animal Kingdom? If you go through the Rain Forest Cafe’s gift shop and out the doors at the back, there is a fun garden type area with oversized vegetation. There is also a working turnstyle with a CM that you can use to get into the park! A lot of people don’t know about this and thus it isn’t very busy.

48. Animal Kingdom has an amazing playground for kids under 10 called The Boneyard. It is a great place for the younger kids to hang out with mom while the older siblings ride Dinosaur, Primeval Whirl, Expedition Everest or Kali River Rapids with Dad.

49. The Animal Kingdom has a program for kids called Kids Discovery Club. As you tour Animal Kingdom, look for the Kids’ Discovery Stations. Each station has a different activity and your child will receive a special stamp in their free activity book (given to them at the first station they visit) when you complete the activity. When you have received all your stamps, you can turn it in for a special surprise.

Hollywood Studios Tips

50. If rain is in the forecast, Hollywood Studios is definitely the best park to avoid the rain. Almost every single attraction and queue are indoors.

51. The most popular ride at Hollywood Studios is Toy Story Mania. Almost everyone at Rope Drop will be heading towards the ride. Your best option in the morning is to send one person from your group to FASTPASS the ride. You can take everyone else to meet the characters near the Chinese Theater followed by Buzz and Woody (located across from the Toy Story Mania ride).

Other Tips

52. If you like a dish at a Walt Disney World restaurant, you can request the recipe.

53. I will also suggest that if you’re going to watch the fireworks at Cinderella’s Castle, DON’T get stuck BEHIND the castle. They rope it off and they have heavy security so that no one can get through until the fireworks are over.

54. Selfie sticks are banned from the parks

55. If you are staying on site you can book fastpasses and reservations up to 180 days in advance. If staying off property you can make them 30 days in advance.

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